Frequently Asked Questions

Will we always have hot water?
All solar water heating systems should provide a backup heat source so in the worst case scenario (cloudy weather), your conventional water heater will simply carry the full load until the situation changes. Solar thermal performance however, is still quite high even when outside temperatures drop well below freezing. Collector temperatures should remain around 40°C on a sunny day with air temperatures at a frigid -20°C. As far as equipment concerns, there should not be a problem, Canadian-made solar water heaters are well suited for our climate. Systems have controls designed to protect the equipment from the severe seasonal temperature changes we experience, preventing both freezing in the winter and overheating on hot sunny days. There will always be a plentiful supply of hot water.

Is our house suitable for a solar water heater?
Most solar water heaters can be used with your existing water heater. Inside your home you will need a small space close to your existing water heater for the solar storage tank. For some general guidelines as to the suitability of your particular location, click here to be taken to the Solar Water Heating - Installation & Maintenance section.


What will the system do to the appearance of our house?
Properly installed solar water heaters will not detract from your home's appearance or disrupt your other home operations. The largest visible part of the system is the solar collectors themselves which look much like low-profile skylights. Solar collectors are finished in an attractive aluminum casting with a glass cover. Collectors are 10-15 centimetres thick and are generally 4x7 feet in size. The other components of the system will usually be hidden along with the rest of your household plumbing.

How much maintenance is involved with a solar water heater?
Solar water heating systems require very little maintenance, the systems are generally self-sufficient. Most of the maintenance a homeowner can do themselves. To get an idea of the typical maintenance requirements
click here to be taken to the Solar Water Heating - Installation & Maintenance section.

What is the pay back period for a solar water heating system?

The solar water heating system is a long term investment that makes sense for homeowner's concerned with the trend of rising conventional heating costs as well as the part its pollution plays in the destruction of our environment. The return on investment for a solar water heater is about 15-20% over 15 years. Solar energy costs nothing after the initial investment. The cost of the equipment is the cost of converting the sunlight into hot water for years to come. As well, value is invariably added to a home that can boast its own hot water generating capacity - a factor often overlooked. One way to overcome the up front costs of a solar system by financing through banks that offer incentives for environmental lending.

Can we use the same solar energy system to heat our house?

It is possible to utilize solar energy for space heating, but it is generally not as good an application as domestic water heating. The season when the space heating is needed is the time of the year when the least energy is available from the sun. For example, from November through February the sun is at its lowest altitude, the days are short and the weather is generally cloudy. Starting in late January there are many very cold days that have enough sun to heat the solar collectors above 30 or 40°C which will suport a radiant floor heating setup. Radiant floor heating involves a warm fluid circulating through plastic tubing installed in the floor. The warm fluid gives up its heat which radiates from the floor to the air above. The tubing is installed during construction of the building. Because the temperatures involved (30 to 40°C) are readily achievable by flat plate solar collectors using energy from the sun, radiant floor heating is a good application for solar energy. For example, Nexus has incorporated this technique in the building of the Southfield Envirohome.

©2004 Nexus Solar Corporation.